By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
In the nearly four decades since I got my driver’s license, during which time I’ve compiled an excellent record of driving people crazy, I have learned that men are prohibited by law from asking for directions. That is why navigation systems were invented.
Unfortunately, there are some men for whom this sophisticated technology doesn’t work. I know because I recently ran into one.
At an intersection.
In my car.
I took this crash course in masculine geography when I crashed into a car that cut in front of me. As I was cruising through a green light, traveling well under the speed limit, the driver of the other car suddenly turned left because, as he explained later, his GPS told him to.
His GPS must have stood for Guy Positioning System, designed to help guys who don’t know where the hell they are going, but like most guys it had a poor sense of direction. I say so because it told the other driver, whom I will call "John" because that is his real name, to go the wrong way down a one-way street.
In that one terrible instant, my life flashed before my eyes. I am sorry to admit that it was pretty dull. Then, BAM! It was like playing bumper cars at an amusement park except that it wasn’t so amusing because my car was parked in the left lane with me inside, an airbag spewing acrid smoke directly into my nostrils after deploying against my head.
Later on, after family, friends and co-workers had been told of this little mishap, my two sisters showed great sympathy for my plight with words of comfort. "I always wondered what would happen if an airbag deployed against an airhead," Susan said. To which Elizabeth added, "You mean an airbag against a windbag."
Obviously nothing happened because I was able to walk away without a scratch. I wish I could say the same for my car, the right front side of which looked even worse than I did the morning after my older daughter’s wedding last year.
Amid the mayhem of honking horns and rubbernecking motorists, I looked around for the other car and found it across the street, sitting in front of a truck at the corner. The impact had spun the car around so it was, unlike its original direction, facing the right way.
"I’m sorry," John blurted after he rolled down the window. "It’s all my fault."
"Are you OK?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "Are you?"
"Yes," I replied.
"I don’t know what happened," John moaned. "I was looking at my GPS and it told me to turn left."
I helpfully pointed out to John that if he had been looking at the road instead of his GPS, he would have seen two things: (a) an arrow indicating he was going the wrong way and (b) me.
The crash occurred at 11:05 a.m. I am supposed to be to work by 11, but I was born more than three weeks past my due date and haven’t been on time for anything since. This all happened about half a mile from my office in Melville, N.Y., which also is home to the Long Island National Cemetery. This means Melville is not a one-hearse town, as I found out when I got back in my car and attempted to pull out of the left lane and onto the right shoulder. I couldn’t do so right away because there was a line of cars coming through. It was, incredibly, a funeral procession.
The guy driving the lead car, with the deceased in the back, rolled down his window and said, "Can I do anything for you?"
"Not today," I responded. "You’ll have to wait before you get any business from me."
He smiled, rolled up the window and drove through. What he didn’t know was that I was the late Jerry Zezima even before the accident.
When I went back to John’s car, I noticed it had Connecticut plates. I asked him where he was from. "North Haven," he replied.
"Howdy, neighbor!" I said. "I’m originally from Stamford."
"Sorry we had to meet under these circumstances," said John, who told me that even though he lives in Connecticut, he works for a company that is headquartered in Canada but that his car is registered to another company in New Jersey.
"No wonder you need a GPS," I said.
Pretty soon a cop showed up and took statements from me and John, who admitted he was at fault and said his insurance company would take care of everything. But I still had to call mine to report the accident. Thank God my wife, Sue, came to help me take care of everything.
Here’s a tip for anyone with a driver’s license: Never get into an accident because it is a pain, both figuratively and literally, in a lower portion of the anatomy. Even though my insurance company has been very good, I was at the accident scene for more than two hours, about half of which was spent on the phone talking with various claims people, not to mention the tow truck operator, who took my car to a garage where it is scheduled to undergo open-hood surgery. It has been estimated that there is a lot of damage but not enough to declare the vehicle totaled. Just my luck.
Speaking of a lower portion of the anatomy, mine was sore as a result of the accident, so that evening I went to the hospital as a precaution and had X-rays taken. Fortunately, I remembered my mother’s words of wisdom, "Always wear clean underwear in case you are in an accident," and was wearing a pair of freshly laundered "I (Heart) Dad" boxer shorts. The X-rays, by the way, were negative.
Now that I have been in an accident and lived to tell about it, I have my own words of wisdom for all you guys out there: Never trust a GPS. If you don’t know where you are going, break the law once in a while and ask for directions. Or, if at all possible, move over and let your wife drive.
Copyright 2007 by Jerry Zezima